Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

First Advisor

Chris Ray

Second Advisor

Pieter Johnson

Third Advisor

Andrew Martin

Fourth Advisor

Alexander Craig Wille

Abstract

How species will respond to the changing climate is poorly understood, but will become increasingly important to understand as the climate changes further. One way to predict the eventual effects of climate change on many species is to study early effects of contemporary climate change on a model species that is known to be climate-sensitive. The American Pika (Ochotona princeps) typically occurs in alpine habitats and has a thermally sensitive physiology, making it an ideal model that is already being widely studied for these effects. This study used SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) from RADseq (Restriction site Associated DNA sequencing), a novel genetic analysis technique, to analyze the genetic composition of a regional pika population in the Colorado Rocky Mountains predicted to have three subpopulations. Using this method of analysis, the pika in this region were found to be genetically similar with little differentiation between subpopulations. For this population heterozygosity was generally low, but there were differences in levels of inbreeding between individuals and some subpopulations. These results show high levels connectivity under current conditions, and variable dispersal at the local level. This study also highlights the differences between data from SNPs and microsatellites used in previous studies, and provides a baseline for the comparison of future studies using SNPs from RADseq.

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